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4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 1996  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/06/1996   
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Contents >> Housing >> Housing Arrangements: Housing after separation

Housing Arrangements: Housing after separation

In 1992, there were 354,000 men and 521,000 women who remained unpartnered after separation or divorce. Equal proportions of these men and women lived in their previous marital homes.

Marital breakdown is an event that causes housing difficulties for many families. Two adults who had combined their resources to provide for one dwelling now need to be able to provide for two dwellings. This occurs at a time when there are a range of other stresses placed on the families.

In 1992 there were 875,000 separated and divorced people (i.e people whose marriage had ended but who were not in another permanent relationship). According to divorce registrations in 1992, the median length of time between separation and divorce was 3 years. The median length of time between divorce and remarriage for those who did remarry was 2.8 years for men and 3.2 years for women. Thus there are on average about 6 years between marriage breakdown and remarriage. However, some of that time may be spent in a de facto relationship. Men are more likely to remarry than women (see Australian Social Trends 1995, Trends in marriage and divorce).


Separated and divorced people and the previous marital home

Separated people have not formally ended their registered marriage by legal means, but have parted from their spouses and are unlikely to re-unite. They are not currently married or in a de facto relationship.

Divorced people have formally ended their registered marriage by legal means, have not remarried and are not currently in a de facto relationship.

The previous marital home is the home in which separated or divorced people were living before they separated from their partners.

Housing costs are the weekly rental or board payments for renters and boarders, and the weekly loan repayments for home purchasers.


The marital home
In 1992, 354,000 men and 521,000 women (6% of men and 8% of women) were separated or divorced (and had not repartnered). The majority (61%) of these people were divorced.

28% of men and women who were separated or divorced lived in their previous marital homes. Those who were separated were more likely to be living in the previous marital home than those who were divorced. This pattern reflects the increasing likelihood of moving as the period since marital breakdown increases. 40% of separated women lived in the previous marital home compared to 21% of divorced women. In contrast 33% of separated men lived in the previous marital home compared to 25% of divorced men.

Overall 66% of people who had been separated for less than one year and had not repartnered were still living in the homes they had lived in when married. However three to four years after separation, only 33% continued to live in their previous marital homes.

SEPARATED AND DIVORCED PEOPLE, 1992

Men
Women
Persons
Housing arrangements
%
%
%

Separated
100.0
100.0
100.0
    Lives in the previous marital home
33.4
39.7
37.1
    Does not live in the previous marital home(a)
66.6
60.3
62.9
Divorced
100.0
100.0
100.0
    Lives in the previous marital home
24.9
21.3
22.7
    Does not live in the previous marital home(a)
75.1
78.7
77.3
Separated and divorced
100.0
100.0
100.0
    Lives in previous marital home
28.3
28.5
28.4
    Does not live in previous marital home(a)
71.7
71.5
71.6
'000
'000
'000
Separated and divorced(b)
354.2
520.6
874.9

(a) Includes those who moved house and were separated in the same year. While most would have moved as a result of the separation this may include some who moved house with their partner prior to separation.
(b) Includes those for whom place of residence could not be determined.

Source: Survey of Families in Australia (unpublished data).


Children
After separation or divorce women who remained unpartnered were more than twice as likely as men who remained unpartnered to have children living with them, 62% compared to 25%. Of those who had children living with them, just over three-quarters were women. While the women were equally as likely as the men to stay in the previous marital home overall, the presence of children gave rise to different patterns. Separated and divorced people who had children living with them were more likely to live in the family home than those who had no children or whose children were not living with them. 42% of men who had children living with them lived in the previous marital home compared to 33% of women.

Being a non-custodial parent may also impact on housing needs. As people not living with their children they have different housing needs from lone parents. However, they may still need to accommodate the child(ren) when they visit. 58% of separated or divorced men had children who were not living with them compared to 27% of women.

SEPARATED AND DIVORCED PEOPLE, 1992

Men
Women
Persons
Children resident
%
%
%

Children resident
25.2
62.0
47.1
Children not resident
58.3
27.1
39.8
No children
16.5
10.7
13.1
Total
100.0
100.0
100.0
'000
'000
'000
Total
354.2
520.6
874.9

Source: Survey of Families in Australia (unpublished data).

PROPORTION OF UNPARTNERED SEPARATED AND DIVORCED PEOPLE LIVING IN THEIR PREVIOUS MARITAL HOME, 1992


Source: Survey of Families in Australia (unpublished data)


Tenure
On separation one or both partners usually leave the marital home. For those who leave, the most easily accessible housing is rental accommodation.

In 1992, 43% of separated and divorced people lived in rented dwellings compared to 16% of couples. Separated and divorced people who lived in their previous marital homes were less likely to be renting than those who had moved out. This is mainly because the home ownership rate among couples is high (see Home ownership) and the previous marital home was where a couple once lived. Women were more likely to be renters than men whether they lived in the previous marital home or not. However, men were more likely to be private renters while women were more likely to be in public rental accommodation.

Those still living in their previous marital homes were more likely than those who had moved to be home owners (44%) or purchasers (33%). Similar proportions of men and women were home owners or purchasers.

HOUSING TENURE OF SEPARATED AND DIVORCED PEOPLE, 1992

Owners
Purchasers
Private renters
Public tenants
Other
Total
Total(a)
Housing arrangements
%
%
%
%
%
%
'000

Lives in previous marital home
43.9
32.8
9.8
8.5
5.0
100.0
246.6
    Men
45.5
33.4
13.3
2.3
5.5
100.0
98.7
    Women
42.9
32.4
7.4
12.6
4.6
100.0
147.9
Does not live in previous marital home(b)
16.1
14.6
38.9
14.4
16.0
100.0
621.6
    Men
16.8
13.1
41.7
6.1
22.3
100.0
250.2
    Women
15.6
15.6
37.0
20.0
11.8
100.0
371.4
Persons(c)
24.0
19.7
30.7
12.6
12.9
100.0
874.9
    Men
24.9
18.8
33.8
5.0
17.6
100.0
354.2
    Women
23.4
20.3
28.7
17.8
9.8
100.0
520.6

(a) Includes not stated.
(b) Includes those who moved house and were separated in the same year. While most would have moved as a result of the separation this may include some who moved house with their partner prior to separation.
(c) Includes those for whom place of residence could not be determined.

Source: Survey of Families in Australia (unpublished data).


Housing costs
Housing is the single largest cost that many people face. Since housing costs measure rental or loan repayments, they are strongly related to the tenure people hold. Separated and divorced people had higher median housing costs than couples and spent a greater proportion of their incomes on housing. This reflects the fact that couples are more likely to own their homes outright and hence to have lower housing costs. They also tend to have higher family incomes (see Home ownership).

Living in the previous marital home has a major impact on the housing costs of separated and divorced people. In 1992, separated and divorced people living in their previous marital homes had median weekly housing costs of $22, representing 7% of their incomes. Those not living in their previous marital homes had median weekly housing costs of $64, representing 22% of their incomes. The low proportion of income spent on housing by those living in the previous marital home reflects the high level of home ownership among this group (44%).

Separated and divorced women spent a greater proportion of their incomes on housing than men. This is mainly related to women generally receiving lower incomes than men. If women were living in their previous marital homes they paid, on average, 8% of their incomes on housing compared to 5% for men. For women not living in their previous marital homes, 24% of their incomes went on housing costs compared to 18% for men.

The housing costs of men and women differed substantially depending on whether they had children and if those children were living with them. Women with resident children spent the highest proportion of their incomes on housing, 21% compared to 12% of the incomes of men with children living with them. Men who reported having no resident children spent 17% of their incomes on housing. This was higher than the proportion for men who had children living with them, but lower than the proportions for women. These differences reflect the different income patterns of men and women over the life-cycle. Women's income stabilises through ages 30-50, the ages at which they are most likely to have dependent children, while the incomes of men continue to rise until their late 40s.

MEDIAN WEEKLY HOUSING COSTS, 1992

Housing costs

Men
Women
Persons
Marital status
$
% income
$
% income
$
% income

Couple
. .
. .
. .
. .
34
5.3
Separated and divorced people(a)
52
13.8
52
18.8
52
17.2
    Living in the previous marital home
22
4.9
22
7.7
22
6.5
    Not living in the previous marital home(b)
61
18.2
65
23.8
64
22.1
Never married people
44
12.0
40
13.6
42
12.5

(a) Includes those for whom place of residence could not be determined.
(b) Includes those who moved house and were separated in the same year. While most would have moved as a result of the separation this may include some who moved house with their partner prior to separation.

Source: Survey of Families in Australia (unpublished data).

MEDIAN WEEKLY HOUSING COSTS OF SEPARATED AND DIVORCED PEOPLE, 1992

Housing costs

Men
Women
Persons
Children resident
$
% income
$
% income
$
% income

Children resident
49
11.7
63
21.4
60
19.3
Children not resident
52
16.7
31
17.7
44
20.1
No children
73
17.2
76
17.6
74
17.2
Total
52
13.8
52
18.8
52
17.2

Source: Survey of Families in Australia (unpublished data).



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